With childhood and adolescent obesity on the rise, it’s important to start teaching kids to lead a healthy active lifestyle at an early age. And the best way to do that is to be active as a family.
Since the 1970s, childhood and adolescent obesity has more than tripled. In fact, the CDC reports that 1 in 5 school-aged children (ages 6-19) in the U.S. have obesity.
While some factors that contribute to obesity cannot be changed, such as genetics, there are steps you can take as a parent to teach your kid to stay healthy through an active lifestyle.
Set the Example
As parents, you can take the first step by being active yourself. As your children’s role model, you set the norm for your family. When your child sees you having fun or being passionate about a sport or activity, they are more likely to take an interest in that or similar activities activity as well. Your child will also see you making your health a priority and learn to make it a priority in their own lives.
Make Time for Being Active
Managing a household with varying schedules, homework, and after school activities can make it difficult for kids to have time for being physically active. The AAP recommends that children 6 years and older be physically active for at least one hour a day, which can be broken up throughout the day. Help your kid structure his or her time outside school to find opportunities to be active. Teach them the importance of being active for both mental and physical health.
Help your Child Find the Right Activity
You can help your child find activities they love by exposing them to different sports and physical activities. When they find a sport ones they really enjoy, they are more likely to continue doing them. Make sure you are picking an activity that is developmentally appropriate and at a skill level that they will be able to enjoy and feel successful.
Being Active as Family
Being active as a family doesn’t have to be complicated. Physical activities are not at all limited to organized sports. Playing a game of tag, taking a hike, swimming at the local pool, playing frisbee, or riding bikes around the neighborhood is an easy way to involve the whole family. Find an activity you enjoy doing together and build it into your weekly routine.
Invest in Toys that Encourage Being Active
Make sure your kids have toys that encourage being active, such as balls of different sizes and types, jumping ropes, frisbees, bikes or scooters. Even simple, open-ended toys that give your child the opportunity to use their imagination can lead to hours of fun outside.
Limit technology/media use
It’s easy to fall into bad habits with the TV and other technology. Once it’s on, it’s hard to turn it off. It’s important to set expectations for media use with your child before you turn the tech on and place limits for them to make sure it doesn’t prevent them from being active.
The APP recommends that parents limit children’s media use each day depending on their age:
- Babies/Toddlers 0-18 months: avoid screen-time, except video chatting.
- Toddlers 18-24 months: parents who want to introduce screen time should choose quality, educational programming that you view and experience together.
- Children 2 to 5 years: parents should limit screen use to one hour, making sure it is high-quality programs.
- Kids 6 years and up: Parents should place consistent limits to teach kids a healthy life balance.
Take Advantage of Living in Colorado
Living in Colorado offers many unique and great opportunities for getting kids active and enjoying the outdoors. Here’s just a few examples you can do as a family:
- Take advantage of some of the skiing deals for kids in the area, such as the 5th and 6th Grade Passport Program. There area many places to get second-hand ski gear or rent it to make it more affordable. Or during the winter snow days, just get out to sled or play in the snow.
- There are a wide range of lakes at local parks to use for swimming, splashing around and being active on the water. Rentals on paddleboards, kayaks or canoes are often available. In Standley Lake in Westminister, for example, you can rent a canoe for $10/hour or a paddle board or kayak for $15/hour. Many local recreation centers also offer pools and water activities.
- Meet other families and go on toddler- and kid-paced hikes through the non-profit Hike It Baby, which has several chapters in Colorado. Many easily accessible outdoor spaces have trails that the entire family can hike.
- There are many bike trails throughout the area where the whole family can get off the street to bike together.
- Try rock climbing at one of the many climbing gyms in our area. Most gyms have harness and shoes you can rent for kids and the whole family can try it out together.
Talk to Your Provider
If your child is struggling to maintain a healthy weight, you have concerns about obesity, you suspect your child has an eating disorder, or you need help getting your child to be more active, contact our office to book an appointment with your provider.